posted on May 15, 2008 15:00
It's rare that alternative music makes any page of French newspapers, let alone the front page. But that's what's happening with Justice (below).
The video for 'Stress', directed by Romain Gavras, has provoked a storm in France. The seven-minute promo features a gang of teenage boys on a rampage of violence through a typical Paris suburb.
Wearing hoodies and leather jackets with the Justice crucifix on their back, the gang terrorise everyone they cross. They mug an old lady, tourists, geeks, whoever. They harrass a young lady in a metro station and beat up the man who tries to save her. They loot a bar, kick and spray-paint everything in reach, and burn out their stolen car.
For many, the most controversial image is when the gang attacks a lone police officer, kicking him on the ground (4 mins 10 secs).
Why exactly are people shocked by this video? Well, it depends on what kind of people you are. Moral custodians and right-wing politicians, no doubt with an eye on easy media exposure, denounce the video as an incitement to violence.
Meanwhile, defenders of free speech praise the video for putting the issue of urban tension and deprivation back in the headlines.
Interestingly, some representatives of minority support associations criticise the video - the youths featured are either black or north African, playing on a stereotype of young people from ethnic backgrounds.
And other local groups, trying to forget 'La Haine', are angry at another less-than-favourable portrayal of the Paris suburbs as an urban warzone.
Regardless of these positions, the video is a fantastic piece of work. Your blogger notes a scene on the steps of Sacré-Coeur where the young hoodlums jump on two buskers and smash their acoustic guitar (2 mins 10 secs). Not that we feel incited to carry out copycat attacks, but just don't call us tonight because we'll be out.
Judge for yourselves: here's the panic-inducing 'Stress' by Justice: